So the search is on for a new Head Coach for the England Women's Cricket team, following the announcement by the ECB today of the resignation of Paul Shaw, the Head of England Women's Performance, and the abolition of his post as "overseer" of all things England.
Shaw was appointed in June 2013 following the departure of England Head Coach Mark Lane the previous month, after five years in the job. But Shaw was not made Head Coach, he was appointed as England Women's & Girl's High Performance Manager. At the time Clare Connor said "The rationale for the role evolving is to reflect the scope and expansion of the England Women's programme and the skill set now required to lead that programme, the coaching/support staff and the players." That evolution was one of the reasons Mark Lane left his post. It was not a role that he wanted to fulfill.
Reverting back to a new Head Coach would appear to be an admission that the structure change has not worked. Day-to-day coaching of the England Women's team was delegated to "assistant coaches" Carl Crowe (who had been Lane's right hand man) and the newly appointed David Capel. Whether they stay in post will probably be the decision of the new Head Coach. But who will that be?
The ECB have a habit of appointing from within, but with the exception perhaps of Crowe, there do not appear to be any internal candidates with the right credentials. The problem with appointing someone from outside women's cricket is that they know nothing about it. They may have seen the odd England game on the television, but they will not have seen a county game. Although, to be fair, few of the current coaches have seen a county game either. Mark Lane got involved with the women's game through coaching Claire Taylor and Shawsey's first contact was through his coaching of Katherine Brunt at Barnsley. One of the problems of centralising England player coaching at Loughborough is that there are now fewer coaches outside Loughborough involved in individual coaching of the England women.
Does that mean that the new England coach will come from within the ECB/Loughborough set-up? It is possible but seems unlikely. Clare Connor again, but on the new appointment this time, "The women’s game is now fully
professional and is in a different place to when Paul was appointed two and a
half years ago. The decision to move back to a more traditional coaching
structure, led by one overarching head coach, ideally with first class or
international playing or coaching experience, is what we believe is now needed
to take the players to the next level in their development as professional
So who will get the job? I have to say that I have absolutely no idea. I cannot even speculate.
But whoever it is, is unlikely to have had any say in who the new centrally contracted England players will be. The contracts will run from the end of January next year, but the players are being told if they are in or out by the end of next month, before any new Head Coach appointment is made. The new coach will inherit his or her squad of players for the next 12 months. With tours to South Africa and West Indies to come, plus the T20 World Cup and a home series against Pakistan, all in 2016, this is far from ideal. There is surely an argument that the announcement of contracts should be delayed further, or the length of the contracts shortened to six months perhaps?
And what of selection? Will the current selection procedure continue, whereby the Head Coach and his assistants select the training and playing squads, and then take on board the captain's wishes for the final 11 to take to the park? This is not a process which seems to have enjoyed much success this summer. Whatever selection procedure is adopted by the new Head Coach some transparency in the process would not go amiss.
There is no quick fix to England's current problems. Reverting back to a Head Coach in touch with their players is a good start, but that is all it is.